Paris Saint-Germain will be eyeing a place in the Coupe de France quarter-finals when they take on OGC Nice on Monday.

While European club football is currently undergoing a winter hiatus, Paris Saint-Germain are set to resume their season early as they welcome OGC Nice to Parc des Princes on Monday.

The clash of the two French giants will serve as the Round of 16 tie of the Coupe de France. As the defending champions, PSG will be expected to ease through to the quarter-finals as Mauricio Pochettino eyes at least a double in his first full season in the French capital.

Les Parisiens have been in imperious form in Ligue 1 thus far, maintaining a healthy eleven-point gap over none other than OGC Nice at the top of the table. Their route to the Round of 16 in the Coupe de France has been relatively easier as well, with the French juggernaut starting their campaign with a win over Feignies Aulnoye before overpowering Vannes at the start of the year.

Under the leadership of Christophe Galtier, who guided LOSC Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season, Nice have done a wonderful job in the league. They are currently second in the league table and are one of the undisputed favourites to secure Champions League football next season.

Unlike PSG, though, Nice have played only one game in Coupe de France so far. They were pitted against third division outfit SO Cholet and had to labour their way across a 1-0 victory, with Andy Delort’s second-half goal being the only difference.

Nice will be hoping for a much enjoyable outing when they lock horns with PSG on Monday. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of their crucial match-up in Coupe de France Round of 16.

Team News & Tactics

Paris Saint-Germain

PSG are missing a few key players heading into this contest, including Georginio Wijnaldum, Neymar and Gianluigi Donnarumma. Achraf Hakimi, Abdou Diallo and Idrissa Gueye, meanwhile, are still out due to their participation at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

There are a few other players missing due to international duty as well, including Angel Di Maria, Marquinhos and Keylor Navas, effectively leaving Pochettino with minimal options at his disposal.

Hence, the Argentine will be reliant on the services of some of his lesser-used players. With Lionel Messi likely to start on the bench, we expect Xavi Simons to form the PSG front three alongside Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe. Other youngsters like Edouard Michut can also hope to get some game-time in this cup clash on Monday.

Moving into midfield, Pochettino is set to go for an all-European trifecta of Danilo Pereira, Marco Verratti and Ander Herrera. Danilo will be in charge of providing security to the backline, whereas the onus will be on Herrera and Verratti to offer the creative essence in the middle of the park.

Meanwhile, in the defensive unit, young third-choice goalkeeper Denis Franchi is hoping for a rare start in the absence of Navas and Donnarumma. Elsewhere, Sergio Ramos is joined by Marquinhos in the list of absentees, meaning the responsibility will be on Thilo Kehrer to form the central defensive pairing alongside Presnel Kimpembe.

It should pave the way for Colin Dagba to start at right-back, whereas Nuno Mendes remains a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank. They will hope to offer width in the final third, although they have to be alert against Nice’s counter-attacks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Franchi; Dagba, Kehrer, Kimpembe, Mendes; Herrera, Pereira, Verratti; Simons, Icardi, Mbappe

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OGC Nice

OGC Nice won’t have to deal with too many absences, neither through injuries nor international duty. In fact, key defensive midfielder Pablo Rosario is back from suspension and is set to form the double-pivot alongside Khephren Thuram. The connection between these two will be vital in keeping the PSG supply line in check.

Both the midfielders are set to be aided by the wide presence of Hicham Boudaoui and Calvin Stengs, although they will be equally important in offering the thrust OGC Nice require on the counter. Stengs, in particular, will be tasked with the responsibility of providing useful balls into the box for the two frontline strikers in Amine Gouiri and Kasper Dolberg.

While neither of them is a traditional centre-forward, their clever use of space, coupled with the dynamism in the final third, could go a long way in breaking the shackles of the PSG defence.

Speaking of defence, though, Nice are likely to play a low block, with the centre-back combination of Dante and Jean-Clair Todibo hoping to frustrate the PSG attackers with their defensive resilience. The full-backs Youcef Atal and Jordan Amavi should be equally important in aiding the defence while offering marauding runs into the final third.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Benitez; Atal, Todibo, Dante, Amavi; Boudaoui, Rosario, Thuram, Stengs; Gouiri, Dolberg

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Key Stats

  • PSG and Nice have met each other in 62 competitive matches, with Les Parisiens holding the better record of 28 wins (L17 D17).
  • Quite curiously, this is the first time these two sides will meet each other in Coupe de France. They have never met each other outside the realms of French first division.
  • Nice have not won against PSG in a competitive game since April 2017.
  • Since the start of the 2011/12 campaign, the visitors have beaten PSG only twice.
  • No other side have won the Coupe de France more times than PSG (14). OGC Nice have won it only thrice, with their most recent triumph coming in the 1996/97 campaign.

Player to Watch

Marco Verratti

Marco Verratti has been one of the better performers for PSG in their mixed start to the year so far. The Italian midfielder has often been the difference-maker, thanks to his ability to evade the opposition press and carry the ball around effortlessly, even in the final third.

Verratti most notably scored a brace in PSG’s 4-0 win over Reims last weekend, playing a vital role in helping his side get back their winning momentum. This time around, the Italian international’s technical prowess, along with his link-up play in the final third, could be even more important, as Les Parisiens look to get the better of a Nice defence almost destined to operate in a low block.

Prediction

Paris Saint-Germain 0-1 OGC Nice

OGC Nice have become a resolute side under the leadership of Christophe Galtier. Their strong defensive foundation, coupled with the sharp counter-attacks, makes them a dangerous opponent even for PSG. Not to mention, the hosts are missing a slew of star players, forcing Mauricio Pochettino to choose from a variety of younger players on Monday.

With that in mind, we are expecting a low scoring affair in this cup tie, with Nice likely to edge the game in their favour by remaining sturdy at the back and making full use of their set-piece opportunities.

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